RALEIGH COUNTY, WV (WOAY) – On Tuesday night, longtime Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney Kristen Keller lost the seat she has had since 2008 to Ben Hatfield.
Now, as she figures out what is next for her, she is reflecting on her nearly four decades of work in the office as she started in the early ’80s as an assistant prosecuting attorney.
“One of the blessings of this job unlike many other jobs in law is not only do I not ever have to say anything that I don’t believe to be true, it’s my duty in court,” she said.
In 2008, Keller ran for prosecuting attorney once her mentor Larry Frail retired. She admits that in her first few years as an assistant it was a big learning curve as she says she was handed files and thrown right in, but she quickly got the hang of the system and for 30 straight years, she never lost a case.
“But that’s not because I’m particularly smart. It is work, and my mom taught me that. If you ever complained, what she said was, ‘If it was fun, they wouldn’t pay you,’ so it’s work. There’s really no such thing as weekends if you’re doing this job correctly,” Keller said.
Keller says it has been a 24/7 gig from taking late night phone calls from law enforcement and victims to advising county employees.
When it comes to the cases, she says the ones that will always stick out to her involve children. But she says one of the toughest was the murder of beloved Beckley Police Officer Chuck Smith in 2006.
However, it is not just the jury convictions she takes pride in. She says it is the relationships she has built with her staff, law enforcement, victims and the public as she says they are the people she has dedicated most of her life to serve.
“I congratulate Mr. Hatfield. I hope he’s the best prosecutor that the county ever had, and I cannot thank my supporters enough with all my heart,” Keller said. “Not only the supporters through this election, but people who have been so supportive of this job and this office throughout the decades ,and I got calls all day yesterday and today, and it just means the world to me. And I did say usually you don’t know how many friends you have until you’re dead, so there is some advantage of losing election. You get to find out right then.”
When asked what is next for her she said that she is looking forward to now having time to clean the house, try new recipes and read books for fun.